Building Blocks of Life Found on Mars

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news.nationalgeographic.com :

Two landmark discoveries reveal organic carbon on the red planet, shaping the future hunt for life on Mars.

Day to day, it’s easy to lose sight of an astonishing fact: Since 2012, humankind has been driving a nuclear-powered sciencemobile the size of an SUV on another planet.

This engineering marvel, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, has revolutionized our understanding of the red planet. And thanks to the intrepid rover, we now know that ancient Mars had carbon-based compounds called organic molecules—key raw materials for life as we know it.

A new study published in Science on Thursday presents the first conclusive evidence for large organic molecules on the surface of Mars, a pursuit that began with NASA’s Viking landers in the 1970s. Earlier tests may have hinted at organics, but the presence of chlorine in martian dirt complicated those interpretations.

www.channelstv.com :

More Building Blocks Of Life Found On Mars

A NASA robot has detected more building blocks for life on Mars — the most complex organic matter yet — from 3.5 billion-year-old rocks on the surface of the Red Planet, scientists said Thursday.

The unmanned Curiosity rover has also found increasing evidence for seasonal variations of methane on Mars, indicating the source of the gas is likely the planet itself, or possibly its subsurface water.

While not direct evidence of life, the compounds drilled from Mars’ Gale Crater are the most diverse array ever taken from the surface of the planet since the robotic vehicle landed in 2012, experts say.

“This is a significant breakthrough because it means there are organic materials preserved in some of the harshest environments on Mars,” said the lead author of one of two studies in Science, Jennifer Eigenbrode, an astrobiologist at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center.

www.msn.com :

a horse in a field: Rocks line an ancient channel where water may have once flowed on Mars.

A new study published in Science on Thursday presents the first conclusive evidence for large organic molecules on the surface of Mars, a pursuit that began with NASA’s Viking landers in the 1970s. Earlier tests may have hinted at organics, but the presence of chlorine in martian dirt complicated those interpretations.

“When you work with something as crazy as a rover on Mars, with the most complex instrument ever sent to space, it seems like we’re doing what may have been perceived earlier as impossible,” says lead author Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at NASA Goddard. “I work with an amazing group of people on Mars, and we have discovered so much.”

Curiosity’s latest data reveal that the watery lake that once filled Mars’s Gale Crater contained complex organic molecules about 3.5 billion years ago. Hints of them are still preserved in sulfur-spiked rocks derived from lake sediments. Sulfur may have helped protect the organics even when the rocks were exposed at the surface to radiation and bleach-like substances called perchlorates.

By themselves, the new results aren’t evidence for ancient life on Mars; non-living processes could have yielded identical molecules. At a minimum, the study shows how traces of bygone martians could have survived for eons—if they existed at all—and it hints at where future rovers might look for them.

www.news.com.au :

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Vera Rubin Ridge. On Thursday, June 7, 2018, scientists said the rover found potential building blocks of life in an ancient lake bed and confirmed seasonal increases in atmospheric methane.

A NASA robot has detected more building blocks for life on Mars — the most complex organic matter yet — from 3.5 billion-year-old rocks on the surface of the Red Planet, scientists said Thursday.

The unmanned Curiosity rover has also found increasing evidence for seasonal variations of methane on Mars, indicating the source of the gas is likely the planet itself, or possibly its subsurface water.

While not direct evidence of life, the compounds drilled from Mars’ Gale Crater are the most diverse array ever taken from the surface of the planet since the robotic vehicle landed in 2012, experts say.

“This is a significant breakthrough because it means there are organic materials preserved in some of the harshest environments on Mars,” said lead author of one of two studies in the journal Science, Jennifer Eigenbrode, an astrobiologist at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center.

“And maybe we can find something better preserved than that, that has signatures of life in it,” she said

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